He will come with superhuman suddenness. Into the middle of earth’s hurly-burly, in which we flatter ourselves that we move speedily, with our smartphones and high-speed internet.
He will come. To settle everything, to expose every lie, to make everything right. And He will do it so suddenly that Usain Bolt won’t even have time to arch his back and set his toes at the startling line. Christ will come more quickly than your software can scan an e-mail for viruses.
Which is why we make friends with Him. The Judge. We cannot outrun Him. We cannot evade Him. And we will have no time whatsoever to bargain with Him; we will have no time to plead for mercy then, when He comes like a bolt of lightning.
We have to bargain now. We have to plead for mercy now. We have to settle the account. Now. Each day.
A couple weeks ago, we talked about Chris McCandless and his immature risk-taking. It cost him his life, and his family a lifetime of grief. Remember Jim and Jennifer Stolpa, with their newborn Clayton? Stuck in the snow in northwest Nevada for eight days because they tried to take a shortcut through the mountains during a blizzard. Their imprudent risk almost cost three lives and immeasurable family grief.
But those foolish risks of life and limb amount to nothing, compared to you or me going to bed without a clear conscience. They risked mortal life. But going to sleep unprepared for death means risking eternal life.
This is not just advice for monks and spiritual athletes. This is Christianity 101. If I cannot say that I have no fear of dying on my way home today; no fear of a meteor crashing into my house; no fear of a random deadly rattlesnake bite when I go to the basement to put my laundry in the dryer—if I am not perfectly ready for The End, then I take a risk with my immortal soul more imprudent that the bodily risk I would take if I set out to hike the Appalachian Trail in the winter wearing only flip-flops and a t-shirt.
Because: They were eating and drinking up to the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. They were buying and selling on the day when Lot left Sodom, and fire and brimstone rained from the sky and destroyed them all.
Planting and building here on earth: fine. Same with marrying and giving in marriage. Provided we can do it with souls reconciled to God and ready to meet Him, in all His stern justice, right now.